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From a Buick 8 Hardcover – Sep 24 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (Sept. 24 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743211375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743211376
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.4 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 717 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (286 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #200,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

Stephen King, an evil car, and a teenage boy coming to terms with the fragility and randomness of life.... Wait, haven't we read this before? Diehard King fans, worry not. Aside from the titular car playing a main role in the story, From a Buick 8 could not be less like King's 1983 masterpiece, Christine. If anything, this story resembles King's serial novel The Green Mile, with reminiscing police characters flashing back on bizarre events that took place decades earlier.

The book's intriguing plot revolves around the troopers of Pennsylvania State Patrol Troop D, who come into possession of what at first appears to be a vintage automobile. Closer inspection and experimentation conducted by the troopers reveal that this car's doors (and trunk) sometimes open to another dimension populated by gross-out creatures straight out of... well, a Stephen King novel. As the plot progresses, the veteran troopers' tales of these visits from interdimensional nasties, and the occasional "lightquakes" put on by the car, are passed on to the son of a fallen comrade whose fascination with the car bordered on dangerous obsession.

Unlike earlier King works, there is no active threat here; no monster is stalking the heroes of the story, unless you count the characters' own curiosity. In past books, King has terrorized readers with vampires, werewolves, a killer clown, ghosts, and aliens, but this time around, the bogeyman is a more passive, cerebral threat, and one for which they don't make a ready-to-wear Halloween costume--man's fascination with and fear of the unknown. While some readers may find this tale less exciting than the horror master's earlier works, From a Buick 8 is a wonderful example of how much King's plotting skills and literary finesse have matured over his long career. And, most of all, it's a darn creepy book. --Benjamin Reese

From Publishers Weekly

King, we learn in an author's note, hashed out the plot of this gripper while driving from western Pennsylvania to New York. The first draft took two months to write. That's quick work, and it's reflected in the book's simplicity of plot and theme; unlike King's chewy last novel, Dreamcatcher, this one goes down like a shot of moonshine, hot and clean, much like Cujo, say, or Gerald's Game. In 1979, an odd man drives what at first glance looks like a 1954 mint-quality Buick Roadmaster up to a service station in rural Pennsylvania, then vanishes, leaving behind the car. The state police of Troop D deposit the vehicle in a shed near their barracks, where, up to the present, it remains a secret from all but cop colleagues for the car isn't exactly a car; it may be alive, and it certainly serves as a doorway between our world and... what? Another dimension? Another galaxy? The troopers never find out, despite their amateurish scientific investigations of it and of the weird beings that occasionally emerge from the vehicle's trunk: freaky fish, creepy flowers and more. Moreover, the "car" is dangerous: the day it appears, a state trooper disappears, and experiments over the years with cockroaches, etc., indicate that just as the car can spew things out, it will ingest them. While the book's relative brevity and simplicity does lend comparison to earlier King, and King has relied on a nasty car before (Christine), the author's stylistic maturity manifests in his sophisticated handling of the round robin of narrators (both first and third-person), the sharp portrayal of police ways and mores and the novel's compelling subthemes (loyalty, generational bondings) and primary theme: that life is filled with Buick 8s, phenomena that blindside us and that we can never understand. This novel isn't major King, but it's nearly flawless and one terrific entertainment.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JR Pinto on July 13 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
From a Buick 8 finds Stephen King returning to the horror genre again. It was after the publication of this book that King announced his "retirement" - he feels that he's begun to copy himself, writing ANOTHER EVIL CAR story. Well, even so, From a Buick 8 is pretty good. It isn't so much an "evil car story" as it is about State Police Troopers and the lives they lead.
One day, twenty years ago, someone (an alien) abandons what seems to be a Buick at a gas station in western Pennsylvania. The police confiscate it and soon discover that it isn't a car at all. The central conceit of the book is how the police (unforgivably, if you ask me) keep an alien machine to themselves, despite how dangerous it is.
King has mellowed with age. His characters are older and more sedate. The story itself is fairly laid-back, although terrible things do happen. However, it doesn't have the kinetic energy of King's early work, and I think that is what the negative reviews are responding to. It is still a good, scary book however. King has not lost his touch for characterization or creating a richly detailed and researched world - you feel you know what it is like to be a State Trooper at the end of this. If you are a Stephen King fan, you will enjoy this novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By debeehr on May 30 2004
Format: Hardcover
FROM A BUICK 8 is a story typical of Stephen King's later work. In the theme of GERALD'S GAME, DOLORIS CLAIBORNE, BAG OF BONES and ROSE MADDER, Stephen King here is less interested in scaring you or in dealing with huge epic themes, as he has previously done in IT and THE STAND, and more interested in detailing the human relationships and the mundane events of everyday life. Here, he continues exploring previously-established themes of the way in which human beings deal with the unknown and the unknowable, and how people can continue to exist side-by-side with the supernatural. While not told on as large a scale as his earlier work, this book reveals a more mature King; it is a layered narrative with more subtle complexity to it than meets the eye on first glance.
One of the pleasures of reading Stephen King's large body of work is watching how he has changed and grown as an author over time. While not as flashy as some of his earlier work, this is a more accomplished novel in which King displays a quiet mastery of his craft as well as a maturity and control that could only come with age.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Lindsay on Feb. 17 2003
Format: Hardcover
I love Stephen King's work. Not all of it: he himself has admitted that he has written some uninspiring stories, but this is not one of those. No, this story is tuff and very emotional from its powerful begining right up to its sad ending. It's a slow story--a sad story. It's the story of a family; not a regular family, but the family of highway patrol troop D; and its the story of the love and the anger that family members evoke from each other--King describes this with incredible sorrow. As i read this book i felt heavy hearted, down right sad--in a beautiful way, though. Imagine that. Told with unique perspective, there are six narrators--and each voice is strong save for Shirley's (it's with her where i find the only problem with the book--cliche female narration.)
Buick 8 has its fantasy elements, and they are fun, damn creepy at times; but the story shines brightest when Sandy Dearborne narrates--his anger with the young Ned Wilcox who is trying to deal with the greef of a fallen father (another State trooper named Curt) is painful. Sandy sees so much of Curt in Ned that it frustrates him to hell through high water because he sees the kid making the same mistakes that the father struggled with, and he's angry at Ned, and with Ned's father, but only because he loved Curt like a brother, and because he loves Ned like a nephew. And it is this conflict where we see King at his best, mirroring the emotion that we saw in Hearts in Atlantis and in The Green Mile. A beautiful story showing us that King is like a fine wine: gets better with age. Pick it up--it is well worth the price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Reed on May 14 2004
Format: Hardcover
I hate to agree with some of the other critics who say this book is too long and boring, but... it is.
I was able to hang in .. happily.. for the first 200 pages or so... but it gets old rather quickly. Most of the book is just a constant stream-of-conscience recollection of this evil Buick in a garage, and there are layers and layers of smarmy, state-troopers-are-a-family mentality. Which is all fine and dandy, but it's just not what one would expect from a Stephen King book.
King is a wonderfully talented author, of course, but-- unless you have a particular interest in state troopers, Pennsylvania, or vintage Buicks, I'd pass on this book.
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By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWER on Nov. 16 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I read From a Buick 8 when it was first published and listened to the audio version in the interim. Now I just finished re-reading it and am perplexed why I have not reviewed the book before. The fact that I have enjoyed it three times garners well for this review (it is actually a 4.5 star effort).

The tale has all of those trademark King-isms: honest, every day folk challenged by malevolent and mysterious forces and circumstances; a simple, conversational narrative that draws you in; and relatable characters who allow us to feel part of the action. In terms of mysterious forces, I loved the Buick 'character' that came from some place else. Even more so I loved that it's existence and impact was never fully explained, "We had drawn a few conclusions about the Buick over the years - established a few rules - but we knew better than to trust any of them very far."

The story of the Buick sallies forth from a troop of Pennsylvania State Troopers over the course of an afternoon. The Troopers and other local public servants have housed the vehicle and kept its secret for years ("The Roadmaster was strange and exotic, unique, and it was theirs. They couldn't bear to surrender it."). In that time, there were numerous strange events that took place when on occasion the car would act up.

King does have a fascination with cars and in this vehicle he does not provide it with a personality like Christine, instead, he makes it a portal or cold piece of technology and that is far more intriguing. The plot and its resolution still allows for the reader to use their own imagination in spades since not all questions are answered.

It is great entertainment and should not be rushed. Take it slow to enjoy the sarcastic reference to my home province of Manitoba, a place that King has mentioned a few times in his works. The tile of this review is a cool line from the book.
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